Watch out Verizon: LightSquared’s LTE-based 4G network adds backing

Nokia on board to build devices, Qualcomm partners on chips

LightSquared, the billionaire-backed upstart building an LTE-based 4G network across the United States, this week announced Nokia will develop devices for the network and Qualcomm will provide chips for such devices.

LightSquared, which plans to start rolling out its wholesale network services by late next year, is gunning for a market also being pursued aggressively by AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, which on Wednesday said its LTE network will go online in 38 U.S. markets by year-end. LightSquared expects to cover at least 92% percent of people in the U.S. with its satellite- and terrestrial-based wireless network by 2015. The company says it has signed its first wholesale agreements, though didn’t share details.

Networking's Greatest Arguments: LTE vs. WiMAX

Nokia Siemens Networks is building the hybrid network, and Nokia itself Thursday said it has agreed to build data-centric products for the network. LightSquared has said data cards, personal hotspots and routers will be among the first devices to roll out for its network, followed by smartphones and other devices.

Qualcomm has also jumped on the LightSquared bandwagon, agreeing to integrate L-Band LTE technology in its chipset roadmap and provide satellite-mode technology for devices built on its chipsets, such as the MDM9600.

LightSquared is backed financially by Harbinger Capital Partners, which earlier this year acquired satellite phone service provider SkyTerra. Harbinger was started in 2001 by billionaire Philip Falcone. LightSquared announced this week it has closed on $850 million of debt, bringing its total to more than $2 billion in equity, debt proceeds and commitments.

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